FISH AND WILDLIFE INTRODUCES NEW PLAN FOR BLACK-FOOTED FERRET
Snatched from the brink of extinction more than 30 years ago, black-footed ferrets have struggled to maintain their toehold across the Great Plains as disease and agriculture have taken a heavy toll. Now a new recovery plan, released Monday by federal wildlife officials, aims to bolster populations of the highly endangered carnivores on a half-million acres in 12 states, including Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plan would reintroduce ferrets in new areas while officials work more closely with private landowners to avoid a political backlash from agricultural interests. If the effort works, black-tailed ferret numbers could grow to 3,000 animals in coming years, versus about 500 in the wild now. However, the failure of some prior reintroductions underscores that success is not guaranteed. Key to the plan is the preservation of prairie dog colonies that ferrets depend on for survival. Many farmers and ranchers regard prairie dogs as a nuisance because they strip grass from grazing lands, both for the prairie dogs to eat and so they can keep a better eye out for predators.
SENATORS URGE COMMITTEE TO PRIORITIZE P.I.L.T. FUNDING
A letter signed by over a dozen senators asks the Senate Appropriations Committee to prioritize federal resources for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program as they develop a Fiscal Year 2014 spending measure. PILT provides federal payments to local governments to help offset losses in property taxes due to nontaxable federal land within their boundaries. These resources are critical to Colorado counties that use the funding to provide services, such as police, fire protection, emergency response, and infrastructure. Moffat and Rio Blanco Counties are two that have thousands of acres of federal land. In a letter to the chair and ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the senators wrote, “As the Senate Appropriations Committee works to develop a final Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 spending measure, we respectfully request that your committee fully support the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program. While the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 included a placeholder for PILT, we want to make certain that the program is funded in the upcoming appropriations bill. We urge you to consider the economic hardship and uncertainty that counties across the nation will face if the PILT program is not given consistent funding.” Both of Colorado’s senators have signed the letter, as well as senators from Wyoming, Utah and several other states.
TREE RECYCLING OFFERED IN STEAMBOAT
If you’re looking for a way to get rid of your Christmas tree, The City of Steamboat has a solution. Now through the month of January, trees can be dropped off anytime at the Northeast corner of the Howelsen Ice Arena parking lot. They ask that you remove all tinsels, lights, nails, and other decorations. They also ask that you not bring wreaths to that location. The trees will be ground up and turned into mulch, which will be given to residents, and used in the city’s parks. If you need more information, you can call 879-4300.
PROPOSALS WOULD ELIMINATE RED TAPE IN FLOOD RECOVERY EFFORTS
The destruction from September’s Colorado floods is prompting proposals that state lawmakers say are aimed at removing bureaucratic obstacles to expedite rebuilding efforts. Some of the proposals haven’t been finalized, but the legislative session that begins next month could see several bills in reaction to one of the worst disasters in state history. One bill would allow counties to shift some of their general fund dollars to their road and bridge funds for infrastructure repair – a transfer that current law forbids. Another proposal addresses the damage to irrigation ditches farmers rely on. A bill would allow changes to the point of diversion to damaged ditches without having to go through the lengthy administrative process of water court.
PARKS AND WILDLIFE CONDUCTING WILDLIFE MONITORING
Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials are reminding outdoor recreationalists that there will be low flying planes and helicopters flying over the back country periodically. The craft are conducting wildlife monitoring efforts for Parks and Wildlife. The idea is to keep tabs on how many of each species is calling Northwest Colorado home, and to capture and radio collar additional wildlife for monitoring. With the data collected, agency researchers and biologists will be able to track the progress of several wildlife management efforts and ongoing studies. They also will get a clearer picture about the overall health of big game, allowing wildlife managers to form population models, management strategies and set future hunting license numbers.
The Denver Broncos travel to play the Oakland Raiders this Sunday for their final regular season game of the year. That game will be carried live on 55 Country with the pregame at 12:05 pm and the kickoff at 2:25 pm.